tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg September 2, 2017 5:00am-6:00am EDT
♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: welcome to the program. it is the end of summer and as we prepare for the next season, we bring you some of the theater conversations on "charlie rose." tonight, an evening at the theater and the playwright, director, and choose metcalfe and cooper. then we have "a doll's house, part ii." and then a look at the musicals with the star and writer. >> the contemporary audience is
less used to rhetoric and the idea of speaking verse. and i think it is important to honor the tradition of speaking verse and poetry and giving audience poetry that has music to it. but i think it is important not to alienate the audience and claim that poetry, but to find a way that it is also contemporary communication. >> the way the play articulates is it talks about how there is a voice inside of your head. that voice is you. but you have all of these other voices colliding in on it. the voices of your parents, your husband, the people in your community telling you what you should be doing. so, she has to stop hearing those voices of other people and hear, really, if i am left to myself, what do i want for myself? >> the first 12 or 15 minutes, you meet evan. you see him give his first monologue and sing his first song, you get an idea of who this kid is and how in need of some sort of savior he is.
you really understand why he falls into this light. -- into this lie. ♪ charlie: william shakespeare's "hamlet" is one of the best-known plays in history. a new production is running at the public theater. it stars oscar isaac and is directed by sam gold. they first conceived of the project when they were students at juilliard. i'm pleased to have them back at this table. >> thank you. thank you for having me. charlie: how did you guys at juilliard say one day, let's do "hamlet" together? >> sam was there is a directing student. i was there as an acting student. we did all of the "hamlet" and "rosencrantz and guildenstern" scenes together. >> i think it was part of your course, right? >> i was studying shakespeare and wanted to work on "hamlet." everybody wants to do this play. it was not a strange idea to
want to do "hamlet." it is the best play ever and everyone wants to get your hands on it. i grabbed oscar from his actor training and said on your breaks, will you do "hamlet" with me? we'll just do the r&g scenes. charlie: is that what they are called? sam: usually, you tackle one of these big meals. i thought it would be fun to start with these friendships scenes. also, we were students and friends. it seemed kind of appropriate for the vibe at juilliard. oscar: we did that at school. after we graduated, we kept in touch and were always talking about wanting to do shakespeare. we finally were able to get some time. it took about two years of really trying to find a window where we could both have the time to put the play up. we finally did.
it was a 15-year enterprise. sam: 10 years of talking about doing it, and a couple of years of putting it together. charlie: what makes it is great as it is? sam: it is a bottomless play. you can look at it from a million points of view and each one of them feels like an entire universe. you think, someone else has this other idea about the play when they open up that door. it is another endless -- the term "poem unlimited" is a shakespeare term. >> it has the ambiguity of religious text. a line is crafted in such a way that it feels like it has infinite meaning. one of the funny things sam
would say to any question an actor would ask is the opposite is always true. sam: the most frustrating play in the world to direct because you can never get to a choice. where you are like, this is right. you choose something and someone can always say, wouldn't the opposite also work? and it does. it is like directing in quicksand. you are trying to lay groundwork and get ideas settled. you want things to have a structure, and you want it to be functioning. every time you get somewhere, you keep digging and digging. you are digging in quicksand. charlie: few people do the entire text. kenneth branagh did, i think, once. sam: yeah, he did. charlie: you have four hours. sam: it is three hours and 45 minutes, but we have cut quite a bit. i go slow. i have a hard time making it go by fast. charlie: what was the vision you presented to oscar of what you wanted to do? what kind of story? how did you want to make it contemporary and at the same
time bare? sam: the great thing is it came from us and our friendship over so many years. it was never like, here is my idea. we started miles and miles from where we ended up. it was what was inspiring us, what was moving us, how we were seeing our lives and ourselves reflected in the play. when it came time to go into production, it was what was on both of our minds. i think what we were both really interested in at the time we started getting into rehearsals was the death of the father. the play starts with the death of hamlet's father and about his grief and mourning process and the stages of grief he is going through. the idea of a man who has lost his father and the grief sending him into madness was something i think both of us could really
see the play entirely through that lens and do it quite well. charlie: you have spoken of how your mother was dying. and you read from "hamlet," long passages. and you were informed by that experience in terms of how you wanted to own the part. >> we had already decided and figured out when we were going to do the play. we were going to start rehearsals in may. november of last year is when my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. it happened quickly with her declining health. i was able to be with her. at the same time, i was preparing for this. her favorite thing in the world was to see me do shakespeare. she loved it. she came to see me at school when i did "romeo and juliet." she loved it so much.
when i was sitting with her first at home and in the hospital, i would read it to her. as i was memorizing it, i ended up doing almost the whole play for her. i guess when i say again, like the religious text, there are things in it that feel like parables. particularly, a meditation on letting go and grief and death. and so, it was very comforting for me and her. there was this one section i read to her about the readiness. if it be not now, yet it will come. she was very moved by that. i thought that was amazing. as it got worse, in february she passed. she never wanted a funeral. she never wanted any of that. we did not do that. as a family, we had our own way to say goodbye.
my sister came to see the show. she said it feels like the version of a funeral she would have wanted, to have the space to grieve and tell that story about losing someone you love so much and having this beautiful architecture and beautiful framework and communion with everyone else to tell it. charlie: this guy came with a sure command of elizabethan -- sam: yeah. oscar, it is a kind of magic trick where he knows the play inside and out and knows what each word means and how to use each word so well that he can do it as if it is contemporary conversation. it is so clear in his mind. it is like when you learn a foreign language and you get to the point where you are thinking in the language and not thinking in english anymore. that is how he has gotten with the part.
he brings the text alive in a way that is musically very beautiful and also extremely easy to understand and follow. charlie: a lot of people have spoken of that. in terms of the audience -- and i think audience members have spoken to that as well. it is more compelling for them because they understand it better. sam: i think a contemporary audience is a lot less used to rhetoric and the idea of speaking verse. i think it is really important to honor the tradition of speaking verse and poetry and giving the audience poetry which has music to it. i think it is important not to alienate the audience but to find a way that is also contemporary communication. i like to put a group of people together. we have 299 people come every night. they are all in a room together. they are all going to
communicate some things about grief and suffering. we are all going to be in the room to experience it together. the communication has to make it to the audience. it cannot just be 400-year-old poetry. it has to be a contemporary conversation about something everybody in the audience is going through. oscar: hamlet says in the play twice, two different spots, the actors are the abstract and brief chroniclers of the time. and the job of the actor is to show the age and body of the time, its form and pressure. that is about now. the actor's role is to reflect to the audience how man is right now, in this moment of time. for us, it was very important to strip away as much artifice as we could and all that representational stuff, trying to convince you we are in denmark in medieval times and
crowns and thrones and all those things and try to find a way to make it much more immediate and relatable. charlie: knowing the history of how many productions and continue to be everywhere every year, did you want to make sure you did -- what did you want to make sure you did? sam: yeah, "hamlet" is a play that is like a little devil for a director. you have to battle with it because everyone has tried to do their "hamlet." and it can really get in your head that you have to add something to that history. that is not a very healthy way to approach working on a play. and so, for me, i tried to not think about any of the productions i had seen and not think about its history at all. charlie: but can you? >> yeah.
you respond to the people you are in the room with. i get in the room with a group of actors and this beautiful language and you see what happens. you focus on that. what do they have to offer this audience, in this moment, in this room we are all in? it kind of takes over. i tried hard to listen to that. i tried to strip away everything else. i did not come in with a concept. i did not come in with -- i was not trying to think about a what isdictator or rotten in denmark and try to make some kind of statement about it. i just said we are in an empty room with an audience and these words. let's see what comes out of our time together. and the essential nature of that helped me from having to be in too much dialogue with concept or history. charlie: do you have to assume hamlet went mad?
because of the killing of his father? oscar: no, not necessarily. i think madness, for me, understanding it through the lens of grief became much more relatable because grief feels like a form of madness. it feels like it can easily -- it is such a shock and such a trauma to lose someone you love so much. that, on the other side of that, it is a whole new existence. i think many people that have had to deal with that can feel how easily their mind can get away from them and change, and you see the world differently. and you -- a lot of pretense falls away. i feel like that in some ways in the play is a euphemism for the feeling of grief. charlie: some actors have said to me after doing "hamlet," they have to take off for a while. oscar: it is. it is very
overwhelming. the interesting thing that has been so different, in a short, condensed amount of time, so many things happened. the passing of my mother, getting married, the birth of my son. that it is almost like my personal stake in doing "hamlet" and the play lowered. it did not mean everything to me. it felt more like release than something that needed to be proved or proven. that is a wonderful state to be. as an actor, you always want your personal stakes to be low and the character's stakes to be really high because that gives you freedom. i think i was able to approach it in a -- strangely in a kind of relaxed way, even doing all the work. but not overburdened with the personal consequences. charlie: if you could sit down with the actors and say to them, this is what i want you to give me, what would you tell them? sam: yeah, truth.
to me, it is always about honesty and not pretending. like, having the thought. i think that is an amazing thing for the audience to watch an actor have a thought. you see the thought that gives birth to the language of the play. you see that ignite in an actor's imagination. the audience gets so excited to see that and see someone not faking it, to see it actually happen. charlie: what is that about as an actor? oscar: i think as an actor with an audience, it is about synchronicity. you are trying to synchronize with the other actors and people, so everyone is moving together almost unconsciously. i think when you do have the thoughts and you are approaching it that honestly, your body unconsciously behaves in certain ways that the audience unconsciously picks up.
and suddenly, we are all synchronized and moving together. i think that is when you really can feel things are alive. but i think it is about -- working on it, there is so much puzzle-solving we had to do. puzzle-solving like, why suddenly go into a soliloquy here? what do these long thoughts mean? charlie: thank you both. at the public theater until? oscar: september 4. charlie: september 4. you do not want to miss this. ♪
♪ henry absent's 1879 play "a -- henry ibsen's 1879 play "a doll's house" has long been considered a literary classic. the play ends with a one student for housewife walking out on her husband and three young children. the conclusion has inspired much debate and speculation over the last century and a half about what happened to her. a new follow-up flashes forward 15 years as she returns to her old home to face her family for the first time. here is a look. >> here is another thing that bothers me. [laughter] >> you don't get angry. >> right now, i feel angry. >> i don't believe you are angry, that you are inside the feeling of feeling angry. i think you are just outside of it looking at it.
like, oh, there is something. [laughter] >> you don't act! constipated. >> oh. charlie: "a doll's house: part two" is currently running at the john golden theatre. joining us, the director and two of the stars. i am pleased to have all of them at this table. welcome, welcome, welcome. lucas, let me begin with you. did you long think about what was going to happen here and over the aftermath of what happened to the character? >> yeah. i have always loved the play. i have seen it in productions. the first thing that came to me was the title. i thought it was an audacious title for a play, "a doll's house, part two." it was not until i started writing it that i had to get serious and get past the joke of the title and consider what it
means to revisit the story. charlie: what do you think ibsen intended people to think about it and speculate about it? >> yeah. maybe in some ways what i did when against his intentions. i think he wanted that door to slam and us to consider the meaning of nora leaving. but, you know, over 100 years later, i think it is time to revisit that story and think about what does it mean that she left and what would it mean to return and what would bring her back? charlie: was there much debate over how she turned out rather than how she might have turned out? laurie: much debate? i love the fact that lucas when he had the idea of what nora's outcome would be, would it be positive or negative, because she had limited options with no skills and no education, the
stigma of being a divorced woman in 1879. people thought her options would be negative, so lucas wanted to go in the opposite direction. when i mean in a positive way, successful way. she is a success. charlie: people believe ibsen intended it as a feminist argument? lucas: i think the thing ibsen kept coming back to in all of his plays was, how are we not free and how could we be more free? is that really truly possible? he was a writer that seemed to yearn for people to be more free, to be less constricted by social norms, social judgment. and so, i think "a doll's house" is part of his consideration of it. one of the things he is thinking about in this play is the roles
men and women fall into playing, or are forced to play. nora's action at the end is to break out of a certain expectation. charlie: but she comes back for legal reasons. she has to come back. laurie: she has to. yes. he has a very clever method that brings her back. what is fun for the audience is to find out what made her come back after 15 years of silence, no communication at all, and also what she has been doing in those 15 years. charlie: how does torvald see her? chris: how does torvald see her? as a completely changed person. he does not recognize her. charlie: is he surprised? chris: i think he is dumbfounded. charlie: he thought she would go off and drift into nothingness? chris: well, yeah. i think he was convinced she is still living, but her outcome, what has happened to her, i'm sure he has no idea. charlie: why does she leave? lucas: she has gotten into a
spot where she is not sure what she wants and she has this strong suspicion the way she is walking through life is without any understanding of who she is as a person. so she thinks she needs to go find out who she is. charlie: her identity. lucas: yeah. she certainly does not think she can find that person if she stays in this house because she will keep falling into patterns of behavior, so she needs literally a change of scenery. charlie: it begs this question, who am i? lucas: yeah. the way the play articulates it, it talks about is a voice inside of your head. that voice is you, but you have all of these other voices colliding in on it. the voices of your parents, your husband, the people in your community telling you what you should be doing.
and so, she has to stop hearing those voices of other people and hear really, if i am left to myself, what do i want for myself? charlie: is part of this play not only how they react to her but how she reacts to them? >> it is an amazing surprise. the door slams in 1879. since then, we have all been wondering what happens. it is a fun exercise. for this play, you have all of this buildup and excitement about what is going to happen when she comes back. are people going to flip out? are they going to welcome her back with open arms? what is she here for? over the course of the play, you get the series of little meetings between her and the important people in her life where you get the surprise of finding out how they treat her and how she treats them. charlie: some have said you are a minimalist in the design of
your theater productions. sam: i like to focus on the words and have the performers do all the work. when i read lucas' play, i thought of a boxing match. it has got a lot of rhetoric, a lot of argument in it. i felt like making a production where it could be great actors sparring. that was the basic idea. charlie: where would you rank ibsen? where do you rank this play? >> it is one of the most important plays in dramatic literature. one, because it was extremely shocking when it was written, to you know, give a woman the things you were talking to lucas about, to give a woman that inner voice, that decision to leave her family, to leave her children, and leave at the end of the play with the door
slamming was an incredibly important moment in cultural history and theater history. it is a great role actors have played forever. you get to watch a great actor play one of the great roles. for this play, it is a chance to get to see someone play nora but also get to see someone in completely new play. it borrows from the old play. but it really is its own play that gets to use some of the context of ibsen. but it is really lucas and lucas' voice. charlie: a gift of fascination -- i guess the fascination is what manner of woman that had the strength to do this? what manner of human being would strike out at a time in which nobody ever left? laurie: oh, i know. it is a wonderful character. it is fascinating. even though i have not done the original "doll's house." i still haven't, really.
i am playing nora helmer. but she has reinvented herself in the 15 years she has been away, so i felt i had a free pass to reinvent the character myself. because, it is the nora we see where everything bottled up in her in the original has come out and exploded. she has a confidence and sense of humor and aggressiveness about her. she is on a mission. and she is focused. it is thrilling to be able to play a character who is still very flawed in lucas' production, but you root for her because she is so passionate about her feelings. charlie: how is she flawed? laurie: oh, she is selfish. she can be petulant. she can be kind of petty and impatient. i find within a character that still has that passion, i find those negative attributes sort
of endearing. chris: this is also what has changed torvald. i think -- having had nora leavd -- we use the house constipated.s through these 15 years and the shock that torvald has taken, he is left to raise three kids with the help of anne-marie, the , hiskeeper, house made life, i think, is so narrow, it's the bank and its home. bank and home. he has no social life. he is horrified or very concerned about what society thinks of him and her leaving, i
think, has turned his world inside out. charlie: would she have wanted to come back anyway? would she be so curious about what happened to them and secondly, i want them to see what happened to me. >> i think that is absolutely true. it is never stated explicitly in the text, but you can read between the lines that there is a curiosity. she is worried of -- seeing her daughter could open up some wound. we also talk about the moment when she walks into the door, there's a little bit above five just beenson who has off to college and learned all of these new things and wants to go home and show mom what they learned. that is sort of the fun of it. charlie: does the audience choose sides? >> the hope is that they choose
sides and here and other side and flip a lot over the evening, which is where i used that sports metaphor where hopefully, you as an audience member, feel every side of the argument over the course of the show. it's one of the things lucas did well and makes the show fun. what's the relationship with the daughter? >> it's funny you are dealing with marriage and divorce and eat andomes the emmy s the little three-year-old that remember her mother and they have very different takes on marriage, which is surprising. it has a lot to do with abandonment. emmy comes across as someone who has dealt with it well, but you see how she has been affected by
it. charlie: anna is concerned about conventional desire to live? >> she just wants her daughter to have options. she sees in her daughter the same things she fantasized about what a marriage would be at her daughter's age. -- the bestons thing she can do to give to her daughter is thus -- as she is going out having a second epiphany and going out the door to do more work. charlie: all of these questions are contemporary questions about who we are, what are our obligations? how do we find happiness? all of that. >> this production takes place in the 1890's and they are wearing victorian clothing and the writing style is extremely contemporary, the way lucas makes the world is contemporary,
so you feel like you can keep asking yourself over the course of the production, what about our world is exactly like victorian norway and what is different? >> how do you add that contemporary necessity to the play in terms of the staging of it? it was always clear to me to have contemporary american performances, the voice of it and the writing was not to feel at all. her or norwegian -- not to feel norwegian, toor feel like we were doing a contemporary play and let the taurean context sort of happened in the subject. then, some beautiful victorian clothing helped. veryu have incorporated victorian sound and very likemporary touches something as simple as a kleenex box.
charlie: that point is to make it contemporary good >> i wanted people to see the contemporary world and think backwards instead of the other way around. charlie: as you started writing -- -- forgive me >> i didn't feel apologetic. charlie: did you want to say, at long last we have somebody answering the questions you raised. i was having a conversation with him. he is a playwriting mentor of mine. let me do and oh my gosh to you -- an homage to me. -- of "a really bad dolls house" online. that was sort of the way i was communing. once i had gone through that and
gotten through the end, i was ready to keep going. of any: can you think other play already written you would like to do part two? >> the problem with the dramatic canada's most place people -- canon, mostaan -- people die at the end. i think this is my only sequel. >> these points of view of each validdual on stage is so that a person, audience member who is of a certain belief or feel has to listen to the he will hear his a whole he will hear
other side and he may hear a second and third and fourth aside and i think it is that thel, amazing and i amquiet surprised there isn't more outspokenness from the house -- do you know what i mean? >> they are outspoken and there are these big, thunderous segments of laughter and the big gasps and on a dime it gets really quiet. >> also win a character drives ame a point because like at sporting event, they applauded when certain points are landed. every character gets a few. charlie: it seems to me to see this kind of play and see gibson
charlie: follows a high school student with anxiety that gets caught up in a movement after a student commits suicide. 9an hansen is nominated for tony awards, including best musical and here is a look at -- here is a look. >> ♪ when you are crying in a forest and there's nobody around, do you ever really make a sound? do i even make a sound soundver make a better be more try to scream, but nobody can hear so i wait around for an answer
can anybody see? is anybody waving back at me? waving?dy waving? woah ♪ ♪ ben platt is nominated for best actor in a musical and the writer, stephen levinson, is nominated for best writer of a musical. i am pleased to have them at this table for the first time. tell me about your character. who is evan hansen? kid and a really lonely isolated and has a lot of trouble connecting to other people and that sort of heightened by the hyper
connectivity of social media and the fact that with young people, especially everything online is being instant tale he judged and looked at so he feels under scrutiny and that is him deeper and deeper into himself and more.him retreat even he cannot find a place to belong and be heard and feel connected to anyone or anything. through this rather terrible lie he tells about a fake friendship with a kid in his class who committed suicide, he grows close to the grieving family and helps them heal in a way and find the new voice and confidence in a place to be in portland and to belong and find new confidence and come out of his shell although it is all predicated on this fabrication. charlie: is it also a critique on social media? ben: when we started working on this, the other composers and writers of this music, we initially talked about it as more of a frontal critique on social media and more of a parody or a satire and as the
show evolved, i think what we became interested in was exploring how social media does promote this kind of false idea of who we are and we are all .erforming at the same time, there is something real that is there, a sense of belonging and connection. it really is this double edged sword. charlie: when you thought about this and you wrote this, was it based on any type of headline you had seen or a story you had seen? >> it was based originally on one of the composers in high school had a classmate who died of an accidental drug overdose and this was someone who was a real loner, outsider, no friends and in the wake of his death, he watched as all his fellow students begin clamoring to say i was friends with him or our lockers were close to each other
so everybody wanted a part of then store that away as a memory he found troubling and interesting and his own response to it. too, kind of wanted to join in and when ben went to college he met justin paul and they began working together and discussed this strange story and both -- both saw echoes of that story in our generation and its response to 9/11. we all knew people who had written college essays about their place in nine at -- 9/11. with social media, that insertion of ourselves into tragedy seems to only escalate and get crazier and crazier until any catastrophe in the world became a way for people to talk about themselves. when the three of us began working together, that was where we began. charlie: what was the average age of the three of you? steven: [laughter] we were all, i believe, 27, maybe 28?
wait that is not true. , we have been working on this for so long. we were like 26. we were really young. [laughter] charlie: you still are. is there a challenge for you -- you've got to make sure we explore him and all he's done, the lies he's telling, but at the same time make him a character people don't reject. ben: certainly. that was always fun at the beginning of development. i came on board about three years ago, and it was always a focus on my part. steven and i together with making sure the audience understood at every turn why he was making these decisions, and you were seeing that it was coming from a place of good intention and wanting to heal and help people and one of the most effective things in the show is the first 12 or 15 minutes when you meet evan, and you see him giving the first monologue and sing his first song, you get a sense of who this kid is and how deep a hole he's in and how in need of some kind of savior he is. you understand how he falls into this life. charlie: is it a savior for him? ben: i think on some level it
does end up being a savior, it does force him to connect in a way he never has. of course, there is a dark side, and forces him to face demons as far as self-hatred and not liking who he sees in the mirror. at the end of the day, it starts a conversation with him, especially with his mother. the show has the ability to start conversations with people coming to the show, topics people feel afraid to broach, especially intergenerational conversations. it really seems to bust that door wide open. that is what it does for evan. charlie: congratulations on the nomination. ben: thank you very much. charlie: when you write the book, what does that mean? steven: it means essentially that my responsibility is partly to structure things, to kind of come up with the roadmap. then all the dialogue. what it meant in this case, because we had no source material -- often you have a book or a movie -- was we came -- ben, justin, and i came up
together with the rudiments of the story and characters, and then i went off and wrote the first act as though it were a play, and left spaces where the three of us decided songs might go. then i send them that draft. they looked at it and said here, where we thought there would be a song, actually i think the song comes later or it needs to -- the scene needs to be shorter. it's kind of building the skeleton. charlie: how do you explain this resonance that it has? ben: it has been pretty crazy -- charlie: other than great acting. ben: a couple things. i think it really accurately and without any filter takes the contemporary world and the way people are connected with each other and the way social media plays into that, and doesn't make too harsh of a judgment. it's sort of presents it the way it is and makes us face how that is affecting us as human beings.
i think the character of evan has an incredible universality as his isolation and loneliness and deep desire to reach out and be reached out to. i think everybody that comes to the show finds themselves somewhere in him, and can go on the journey with him, not only because it is beautifully written that he has this self-effacing humor, but people -- and beautiful songs and you like him as a character but , people really see their humanity in him. charlie: this is what your mother told "the new york times." [laughter] steven: always a reliable source. charlie: she said, "i contemplate ben's emotional well-being every day. he's mature, but he's only 23. i worry about how much time he spends alone." that is your mother. ben: that's my mother. [laughter] charlie: how proud can one mother be? ben: she's the most wonderful human being on the earth. but we don't have to talk about that, because it would take the whole time. there's sacrifice involved because it is a demanding role, it is something i take very
seriously, my responsibility to curate this evening every night and give the same emotional intensity, and make sure the audience has an identical experience. that requires a lot of me as far as sacrificing social life. by lifestyle gets really affected but this is the kind of , piece that is so beautifully written and deeply felt that you want to give yourself to it and make sacrifices, because they don't come along all the time. especially musical theater. charlie: you have been working with the same actors for three years? ben: in the first readings, four of the actors were already in it. charlie: has it caused you to change the writing at all or a lot? >> these actors really helped shape this material, especially ben with this character. part of the reason this show resonates is because his show is so specific. the more specific -- specificity
, the more universality. to havei have been able a conversation where he will do something and i will respond in the writing and he will respond in the performance. that has been a real, deep pleasure. stevenof the many things does brilliantly is find things in ourselves we are not eating in note -- we are not even noticing we are doing and we end out intifully fleshed the writing and takes advantage of the performance. that is what makes the characters feel beautifully ofest, he uses the seeds that to create a beautiful idea. charlie: as long am i am doing it, and everything i do has to be in the service so there is not a single performance where they feel like they do not get the best -- i don't think anything can be genuinely fulfilling or powerful. i am definitely willing to take that toll, whatever it may be. is there a toll?
is it simply the endurance of doing it and there are requirements of singing that much and the demands on you to perform at the center of this? ben: i think the literal toll would be the physical demands and the vocal demands and the physical therapy, voice lessons, what have you. there is also the emotional toll to go to such a dark place eight times a week and make it as real as possible is not always the easiest thing to do. particularly if it is the audience that's a little less responsive, or a day that i'm lower on energy. charlie: you can feel if they are less responsive? ben: sure. the beautiful thing about this piece is that people go on this journey every night, and the response is beautiful every -- by the end of the show every time. it's just by virtue of anything from the weather to what is going on in the world that day to what is the age of the people in the crowd, sometimes it takes longer to get on the crowd and maybe they are not as vocal. charlie: what do you do if you sense that? ben: i try not to push.
the instinct is always to go harder to try to win them, but i think the great thing is the material is fantastic and specific. if you lay back and let the show do its job and sort of not try to slam on the acceleration, they come to you. charlie: that is a very good way of putting it. this is the cast seeing "you will be found." >> ♪ when you are broken on the found, whenwill be the sun is streaming in, you will rise again if you only look around, you will be found you will be found you will be found ♪ ♪ charlie: i asked the average age of the cast.
you said somewhere in the middle. ben: we've got five people in their early to mid 20's playing teenagers, and we have adults in their mid-40's playing parents. charlie: you never show him in therapy, do you? why not? i think we wanted to get to know evan with his mom, especially. we wanted that to be the way we get to know this character and the lens through which we see him. therapy tends to be boring to writers because they are so reductive in a way. it's sort of like writing an interview where you have one character whose job is to say, "how does that make you feel?" whether it's with his mom or his peers, there is a level of unpredictability that forces evan -- charlie: and a higher level engagement too? , >> absolutely. charlie: it runs how long? >> indefinitely.
until the end of the world. [laughter] charlie: does it give you any time to do anything else? ben: not really. we have monday's off. charlie: this is not a theme on my part. ben: we have monday's off we are , dark on monday. this is a really exciting time, and i love being inundated in it. it is obviously a temporary thing, and i want to take it as it comes. charlie: because it has become such sensation here, are you getting advice from other people who have also conquered the new york musical stage? ben: we have a lot of actors that come and offer their pieces of advice. charlie: their congratulations? ben: the thing about the show's people really are very moved at the end and feel sort of really opened up. when i do get to interact with others, whether it is other actors or everybody at the stage door, everybody is so effusive and ready to discuss and wanting to be open with me because they feel it we just had this shared
emotional experience. that is kind of my favorite time to talk to people. mostly what i get is just to make self-care a priority and making sure i am taking care of me the human being so me the actor can continue to do this stuff. charlie: here is evan singing with his girlfriend, "only us." >> ♪ it will be us and only us and what came before won't count anymore you and me that's all that we need it to be and the rest of the world falls away and the rest of the world falls away ♪ ♪ charlie: congratulations. ben: thank you very much. charlie: great to have you here. this is terrific. thank you very much. ♪
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